Friday, February 5, 2016

Ironman Lake Placid Training: January, 2016

As we entered the new year my training had just started to get more structured in nature. After taking some real downtime, December was about getting workouts in on a consistent basis, making sure I would be ready to get back on the straight and narrow path with my training. With an Ironman on the race schedule it is important for me to get fit enough to do the training necessary to get in Ironman shape. If I'm not "ready to train" by April 4 I have basically no chance of reaching my goals come race day.

A few years ago I started to think of my training over the course of a month as opposed to just thinking about what each particular week was about. The change in focus has allowed me to back off when the legs feel a bit spent without the guilt of missing or having a poor workout. If that long run gets bounced from Saturday to next Tuesday, no big deal.

For the month of January the main goal was to start the process of rebuilding my fitness. Over the 31 days of January the goal was to get my training back up to full capacity, building volume and workload over the course of the month. Strength and muscular endurance were an overriding theme.

In general I achieved these goals. Training volume was consistent from week to week, averaging 12+ hours consistently. The final week of the month was scheduled for recovery. After the Lehigh Valley was hit with 32 inches of snow on January 23, I decided to move the recovery week up a few days. By making such a switch I took any internally produced pressure I may have had to run long on a treadmill out of the equation. Plus, shoveling and snow blowing all that snow was an added bit of work not. Having monthly goals made the funny looking weekly workloads OK!!!

Here's how it all broke down:

Swim: The goal here was to get in the pool on a consistent basis, build up total volume as well as yardage per session, and start working on my pathetic kick. All of that happens. I was in the pool 4x each week, increasing my weekly yards from roughly 10k the first week to 12k the last week. I added a kick set to 3 workouts each week, with the exception of week 2 due to time constraints. I did a 1k test at the end of the month, swimming it in 14:10. Not great, but a good place for me at the end of January.

Bethlehem PA January 2016 Blizzard
Sometimes a run outside is just not an option ...
Bike: The major goal for the month here was two-fold: first I needed to get my winter volume up after taking a few months essentially off from riding; and, two, start the (hopefully) two month process of rebuilding my FTP. Most of the mileage/hours were done solo on the trainer as Bethlehem in January is not conducive to early morning riding. Weekend weather did allow for a few rides outside, which gave me a nice break. Overall I would call the month a success as I was seeing better numbers during intervals while not destroying my body for days after. Not back quite yet, but another month of consistent saddle time should do the trick.

Run: As I stated last month, of the three disciplines this is the one that requires the most care. After two years of low run volume/frequency, it is a process to get me back to where I need to be come July 24th. This month the concern was frequency, making sure the body can handle the pounding of running on a regular basis again. Total volume was less of a concern with no real target for weekly mileage. I did not want to put a number in my head that I "had" to reach. More important to see the gradual increase than hurt myself right out of the box.

After 31 days and 21 runs I enter February feeling much, much better when I run. Overall mileage has been trending up while average pace has been trending slightly lower. Just as important running feels easier than it did in December and I feel like I am starting to get my legs back under me.

Strength and Mobility: This was an easy success for me in January. After a few months of consistent focus in this area I have continued forward in a consistent manner. Even as my swim/bike/run have started to increase I continue to get stronger on the major lifts. Mobility training has been positive as well.

Racing: No racing this month. Sometimes you just have to train.

Overall: December turned out to be a good month. The workload was not unreasonable by any stretch of the imagination, but slowly built over the 4 1/2 weeks. I started the new year feeling fresh and fit enough to start the base training period on January 4.

What's Happening in February? Once again there are no races on the schedule, just steady training. In the pool I will continue to work my kick, extend my longer swim sessions, and work the high end. By the end of the month I expect to be hitting the same FTP numbers on the bike I held at the end of my 2015 racing. Assuming the weather cooperates my weekend long rides will get a bit longer, but nowhere near long. I enjoy riding outside in the winter, but I do not believe in putting in overly long rides before it is necessary. Mentally I will be better come April if I keep these on the (relatively) short side. And if weekends are for $h!t, I'll stay inside and get less volume as a result. On the run the goal is to continue to build muscular endurance and durability. After "just running" in January, February will feature hill work during the week. Strength and Mobility work is about continuing to build on the work I have done these past few months.

Thanks for reading.

Train hard. Stay focused.


  1. Hey Jon. You did a 1K Test swim in 14:10? You wrote that you're a 1:05 swimmer. My fastest 1K time is 15:08 and I went 57min at IM'A and 1:04 (in rough weather) at IMWA'15, IMWA'13 in 1:02. I'm interested if that is a real time. Also, do you follow a plan for building up your FTP?

  2. Hey Kevin, that is a real time but in yards, not meters, so it is the equivalent of a 15:45, give or take, to what you have done. I am not a 57 min swimmer, but hope to get close to the 1 hour mark. I swam a 1:07 in 2011 in Lake Placid without a wetsuit and felt prepared to do a 62 or so in 2014 in Florida.

    On the bike I have been working on getting back to where I had been at the end of last year with bike intervals on the trainer. Just did one of my staple workouts this morning of 4-8x 2 1/2 min all out + 5 min recovery. Did hit my watts that I could hold late last season for the first 4 (of 5) but it hurt like hell. If I keep it up I feel by the end of February I should be back and ready to start the next phase, which is working on my FTP.